Last year around June California’s large-scale solar arrays started breaking records—big records of generation. But this year the state’s giant solar arrays are already producing more than twice what they produced just last summer—when they were producing at higher capacities and for longer hours.
The California Independent System Operator Corporation (ISO) said that during March 7 the grid’s larger solar arrays those likely contracted with the utilities pumped 3.9 gigawatts of solar-based electricity to the grid. The next day, March 8, they pumped just shy of 4.1 gigawatts of solar power into the grid from 5.2 gigawatts of large-scale solar power. That’s not even including the residential solar arrays, which reached 1.6 gigawatts of installations in July 2013. So what? Well, it’s a huge jump from last June.
A lot of the new generation in 2013 and 2014 came on as two of largest solar power plants ever, the 377 megawatt Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System and Abengoa Solar’s 280 megawatt Solana project were completed and came online. But overall the Solar Energy Industries Association reported that both the amount of residential and utility-scale solar that came online in California in 2013 doubled.
“Electricity generated from solar has more than doubled from June 7, 2013 when the California…ISO recorded 2,071 MW of peak production,” the organization said. It added, “Output has more than quadrupled from the summer of 2012.” Putting it in context, that generation level can power about 3 million homes in the Golden State.
“This shows that California is making remarkable progress in not only getting new resources approved and connected to the grid, but making meaningful contributions in keeping the lights on as well,” says Steve Berberich, ISO President and Chief Executive Officer. “The milestones illustrate that we are well into a new era when clean, renewable energy is shouldering its share of our electricity needs—and that is exciting.”
What’s more, it shows that solar is producing increasingly more of the state’s energy needs. For instance today’s (march 17) electric demand in California is expected to peak at 28.3 gigawatts. That means that large-scale solar provided about 14.5 percent of the state’s electric needs at peak performance. Considering the amount of wind power in the state (California is only behind Texas when it comes to wind) the effect of renewables is even greater. “When combining ISO wind resources of 5,890 MW and solar resources of 5,231 MW, the two resources now account for 11,121 MW interconnected to the ISO grid,” ISO said.
Given the growth of solar in California over the past year, expect this record to keep falling. Heck, by June this year solar might be providing more than 5 gigawatts of electric generation to California’s electric grid in a day.Tweet